Gathering 7 pm Sunday March 24, 2019

Lucie Vítková, accordion, voice, movement

Elizabeth Adams and Lucie Vítková are up to something…. RSVP to to find out what it might be!

A work in progress showing of a new collaboration between
Elizabeth Adams and Lucie Vítková
performing accordion, movement, and voice
relating to the fight for housing justice

It’s one of What a Neighborhood!‘s gatherings in living rooms, and composer Elizabeth Adams may be familiar to you, as she has been involved with What a Neighborhood! since 2004. But this evening will be all new, too, with a composition still taking shape, a special guest artist (a composer herself), and a terrific family hosting!

First gathering of our 16th Season

Meredith Monk and Katie Geissinger
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
            We are delighted to invite you to begin a season of
exploration and experiment with us…
What a Neighborhood! is excited to feature singer Katie
Geissinger, an extraordinary artist and a long-time
member of Meredith Monk’s Vocal Ensemble, at our first gathering of the year. She will talk about her work and
their work together and lead exercises to help us all understand some of the mysteries of it from the inside out.

Tuesday 15 January at 7:30 in a lovely large living room
on 111th Street — wheelchair accessible —  please RSVP to and we’ll send you the address!

Refreshments will be served. The gathering is free, but any contributions will help support future inspiring and
encouraging events. Checks may be made out to
“The Field” with “Orfeo Duo” on the memo line. (If you
want to contribute but not attend, or if you want to use a
credit card, click here.)

Special thanks to neighborhood composer and What a
Neighborhood! board member Peter Homans for
dreaming up this gathering! Peter and Katie G.
recommend these short videos of Katie Geissinger and
Meredith Monk’s collaborations:

Love, Vita et al.

An Evening at Rahel’s Salon — 28 March, 2018, 7 pm


An Evening at Rahel’s Salon
March 28, 2018
You are warmly invited to the second concert of What a Neighborhood!’s fifteenth season: An Evening at Rahel’s Salon, on Wednesday, March 28th, at 7 pm, at the Bloomingdale School of Music, 323 West 108th Street, in which we will celebrate local composers in a program rich with historical and poetic resonance. In a setting resembling an early-nineteenth-century Berlin salon, we will enjoy music by Beethoven, Clara Schumann, Mendelssohn, and neighbors Elizabeth Adams, Jean-Luc Bouchard, and Kaia Berman-Peters, and explore the wide-ranging influence of Goethe’s writings on plants. Performers include the Orfeo Duo (Vita Wallace, violin, and Ishmael Wallace, piano and baritone), Kaia Berman-Peters, accordion, and Claire Lawler, guitar. Neighbors will be cast as Goethe and his friends and admirers, reading selections from their letters, diaries, and poetry. Suggested donation: $10, but all are welcome. For more information, please call 212-666-0928 or visit

Vita and Ishmael Wallace, the Orfeo Duo, are the co-directors and principal performers and teaching artists of What a Neighborhood! Their mission is to inspire and encourage people of all ages through music-making that expresses the breath of life. The siblings have performed together on the violin and piano since 1984, giving concerts in Europe and throughout the Americas and making recordings acclaimed as “magnificent,” “daring and fresh,” and “singularly passionate.” Vita and Ishmael have directed What a Neighborhood! since 2003, celebrating their own neighborhood, assisting local composers, and developing a reputation as adventurous, versatile artists and “animateurs.” The duo was awarded four Chamber Music America residence grants and the 2011 Goddard Riverside Good Neighbor Award.

Ishmael Wallace is the composer of seven operas; the latest premiered in 2016, with Ishmael in the role of Orpheus. Over the past five years, Ishmael has given numerous song recitals. His cantata The West Harlem Christ was commissioned by neighborhood organizations, led by St Mary’s Episcopal Church, Manhattanville and funded by Continental Harmony. Ishmael was a double major in Composition and Piano at the Curtis Institute of Music and at Mannes College, where he has also taught. Vita is a busy performer on the baroque violin with the Dryden Ensemble, ARTEK, Opera Feroce, Anima, and more. In contemporary music, she has recently appeared with Praxis, Music for Contemplation, and Julie & Elizabeth’s Anti-Capitalist Concert Series.

Viriditas, Greenness — 17 March at 3:30

What a Neighborhood! celebrates Greenness!

In anticipation of spring, What a Neighborhood! seeds the Upper West Side with the opening of its fifteenth season celebrating local composers on Saturday, March 17, at 3:30 PM. Viriditas: Greenness, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 521 West 126th Street, will focus on plant metaphors in music, featuring songs by twelfth-century Abbess Hildegard von Bingen, new works by Hsueh-Yung Shen, Samuel Newsome, and Peter Homans, and commissions from Rosalie Burrell and Ishmael Wallace. Performers include the Orfeo Duo (Ishmael Wallace, piano and baritone, and Vita Wallace, violin and vielle), Dongmyung Ahn, vielle, and Samuel Newsome, soprano saxophone. Suggested donation: $10, but all are welcome.

There will be an exhibition of artwork by members of The Makers’ Guild of St Mary’s as well as an exquisite icon, Our Lady of Ferguson, on display. The audience is invited to swap seeds and meet the artists at a reception after the concert.

Samuel Newsome, who will be performing his own music, sees himself more along the lines of a visual artist who paints with notes and sounds rather than shapes and colors. “My music,” says Newsome, “is a type of improvisatory art music in which jazz functions more as a resource than a musical genre to be interpreted with stylistic specificity.” Even though Newsome’s approach is unorthodox, it has proven to be very fruitful—musically and critically. Mr. Newsome’s creative efforts have earned him the 2016 NYFA Artist’s Fellowship for the Music/Sound category; nomination for Soprano Saxophonist of the Year by the 2016 Jazz Journalist Association (JJA); and top placement in the Soprano Saxophone category in the 64th Annual Downbeat Critics Poll.

What a Neighborhood!, founded in 2003 by the Orfeo Duo (Vita and Ishmael Wallace), celebrates the creative spirit in Morningside Heights, West Harlem, and Bloomingdale (the part of the Upper West Side just south of Morningside Heights, including the area known as Manhattan Valley) primarily through the music of living local composers. Its goals are: to encourage and inspire composers and other neighbors; to develop grassroots support for new American music; and to draw neighbors together, nurturing a vibrant community that includes all of the diversity of the area. Program offerings include mainly chamber music and songs, but also dance, poetry, art, and more.

Dear friends and neighbors,

Happy New Year! We’re delighted to invite you to the first gathering of What Neighborhood!‘s 15th season! Please join us to explore Goethe‘s inspired observations on plant growth next Wednesday, January 17th, at 7:30, and to compare them with patterns of musical growth in short pieces by Robert and Clara Schumann. I am sprouting some lima beans for us to sketch, and neighbor Dan Frank will read one of his own poems. It’s going to be a lovely evening, so please RSVP for the address.

Contributions of all sizes to help with concert expenses are most welcome! Thanks to recent contributions from many of you, we have in hand $5000 of our $11,000 budget. Tax-deductible donations may be made online; by writing a check to our non-profit fiscal sponsor, The Field, and dropping it in the basket at the gathering; or, by mailing your check to us at 615 West 113th Street #33, New York, NY 10025.

We have a lot more than lima beans sprouting, and we’ll be announcing concerts soon!

Love, Vita